Scotland politics

Scottish government 'firm commitment' to named person scheme

family symbols Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The scheme would appoint a named person to oversee the welfare of every child under the age of 18

The Scottish government remains "firmly committed" to implementing the named person scheme as soon as practicable, the deputy first minister has said.

John Swinney made the pledge as he confirmed the policy would not be rolled out on the last day of August as initially planned, pending changes.

It follows a ruling by the UK Supreme Court last month that aspects of the plan breached European human rights.

The scheme would appoint a named person to oversee the welfare of every child.

But judges decided that information-sharing provisions in the plan could result in disproportionate interference with Article 8 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - the right to a family and private life.

Secondary legislation required to stop commencement of the relevant parts of the act at the end of this month have now been laid before the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Swinney said he would make a statement to MSPs in the first week after the summer recess on progress in implementing the scheme, and insisted the issue was "one of timing, not of policy".

'Ensure compliance'

He said: "In its judgment last month, the Supreme Court dismissed a number of challenges to the named person policy and described its aims as 'unquestionably legitimate and benign'.

"However, the court's ruling made clear the Scottish government needs to amend the information-sharing provisions in the 2014 Act and provide greater clarity about the basis on which information will be shared to ensure compliance with the ECHR.

"I confirmed earlier this month that the Scottish government is therefore not commencing the named person provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 on August 31, and ministers have today lodged the necessary order to address this point.

"We remain firmly committed to implementing the named person service to support children and their families. We will engage with key partners across public services, the third sector, Parliament and the wider public to take this forward.

"I am determined to see the service implemented as soon as practicable. There will be a named person service, its availability guaranteed by law to those who want to use it."

Mr Swinney said a new roll-out date would be brought before Parliament.

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "Families and professionals will welcome this development.

"But this also contributes to the confusion in those local authorities which have already launched a scheme now deemed to be unlawful."

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